From the Foaling Barn


In Praise of Recipient Mares

I have a conflicted relationship with recipient mares.  I often need recipient mares, as I do this year.  My mare Shin N in the Finals (Shiney) experienced a calamitous health crisis as the result of a retained placenta.  Even though we were treating her aggressively, she spiked a high fever, developed severe colitis and then foundered.  She’s on the mend and doing well, but we are still worried about residual laminitis in her feet.  As a result, we think it unwise for her to carry her own foal this year.  We bred her last week, and will pull an embryo next week.  The embryo will be sent to Royal Vista Southwest to be implanted in a recipient mare if all goes as planned.

This year we have two recipient mares from Royal Vista Southwest.  Both now have now foaled and are excellent mothers.  I appreciate what these recipient mares do for my breeding program, and while they are with me,  I take the same care of them I do of the mares I own.  Over the year and a half I have them here at the farm, I become very fond of them.

But here is the hard part–I have to send them back to unknown futures.  Royal Vista probably bought them at auction for very little money.  The mares have value to Royal Vista as long as they are fertile and present no problems to the breeders who lease them.  But when they fail to perform their job as broodmares, then what happens to them? If they fail to get in foal, how many chances do they get before they are sent to auction yet again.  I’m sure a fair number of them were never riding horses, or have some sort of injury or deformity that would make them unridable now.   So who buys them and why. I can imagine all sorts of awful possibilities for these two mares that I have cared for this year  and who now are caring for my foals.

So, though while they are here I have the same kind of relationship with them I have with the mares I own, that is, I think about them everyday, I feed and medicate them, I groom them and have their hooves trimmed–after eighteen months I send them away and try very hard not to think about them again.

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